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Data from the Kentucky State Police indicates that the number of commercially licensed drivers arrested for drug use has been on the rise. A total of 24 such arrests took place in Kentucky in 2013 followed by two years of consecutive increases culminating with 32 arrests in 2015.
Last summer, WKTY reported on the arrest of a 37-year-old trucker by state police officers. He was found to be driving his tractor-trailer while under the influence of methamphetamine. He also had his children in the vehicle with him.
More recently, a trucker in neighboring Henry County in Tennessee has been charged with multiple counts of driving under the influence . According to QCOnline, his arrest in January of 2017 involved a narcotic drug or potentially a derivative thereof.
New rule aims to crack down on commercial driver impairment
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the government entity charged with overseeing the commercial trucking industry in the United States. Several years ago the FMCSA embarked on a project to establish a means by which commercial drivers could be tested for substance use and the results of those tests could be made available to potential employers and state licensing organizations as well.
Referred to as the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, this effort was officially launched in January of this year with a final compliance date set for January of 2020. Its direct purpose is to keep impaired truckers off the road, thereby improving public safety.
Database to house many types of records
In addition to the results of substance testing, the FMCSA's Clearinghouse database will contain information on other actions and events as well. Any refusal to submit to substance testing will be included in a driver's record. So too will be any violation related to drugs or alcohol.
Pre- and post-employment screening
Before hiring new drivers, employers will be required to review candidates' Clearinghouse records. In addition, employers will need to review all drivers' records every year even after successfully being hired.
State licensing agencies will be mandated to review drivers' records before issuing any new or renewed licenses. The same must be done prior to approving a transfer or upgrade of an existing license. The Clearinghouse will link records between states. This means that a violation in one state will be visible to another state to prevent drivers attempting to circumvent the system by seeking licenses in other states.
Recommendations for Kentucky residents
While the new Clearinghouse may help reduce the number of impaired truckers on Kentucky roads, it may not be able to eliminate them altogether. When accidents happen, people should reach out to an attorney immediately. Seeking compensation is important and getting the right help makes a difference, especially when working with commercial trucking and insurance companies.